South Sudan leaders discuss ties, peace implementation with Ethiopian PM

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JUBA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar on Monday met with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to discuss bilateral ties and outstanding issues in implementing a 2018 peace agreement.

Ahmed was visiting South Sudan at a time when the country's two main principals to the revitalized peace deal are in disagreement over the recent sacking of two ministers.

Deng Dau Deng, South Sudan's acting minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, said Kiir and Ahmed discussed bilateral matters with regional dimensions, including the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

"South Sudan values its historical ties with Ethiopia and appreciates Ethiopia's keen interest in its peace and stability," Deng told journalists in the South Sudan capital, Juba.

Deng said Ahmed also held talks with Machar, without providing details of the meeting between the two leaders.

Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen Hassen said Addis Ababa attaches great importance to peace and stability in South Sudan.

"Ethiopia... stands committed to peaceful resolution of (political) issues," Mekonnen said.

On March 3, Kiir sacked Angelina Teny as the minister of defense and veterans affairs, a move that has been protested by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) under Machar. Teny is Machar's wife.

Kiir also fired interior minister Mahmoud Solomon. No reason was given for either dismissal.

Under the 2018 revitalized peace deal, the SPLM-IO is handed control of the ministry of defense while Kiir's SPLM-In Government is in charge of the ministry of interior.

Kiir's latest decree swapped the two ministries, prompting protest from the SPLM-IO, which said the decision lacked consensus from the parties to the peace deal.

International partners on Monday encouraged the two sides and all stakeholders in the peace process to increase the momentum for the implementation of the peace deal.

A joint statement from the African Union Mission in South Sudan (AUMISS), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) lauded a meeting between Kiir and Machar on March 10 to discuss the status of the implementation of the peace deal and the recent "Decree and Republican Order" swapping ministries.

"Following consultations with high-level Government parties by AUMISS, IGAD and UNMISS, the partners wish to once again encourage renewed focus by all signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement as outlined in the Roadmap, for its full and timely implementation," the statement said.

The partners encourage the parties to maintain collegial collaboration, continuous consultations and consensus-building in the letter and spirit of the revitalized agreement, the statement added. Enditem

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